Myint Zan compares different ways of denying free will.
This just shows us how convoluted these things can become. Clearly if none of us have any actual autonomy regarding anything that we do then others who still hold us responsible do so only because they too are in the same boat. Whereas if we do possess some measure of volition, there are still going to be any number of factors in our life that are beyond our either fully controlling or even fully understanding.If one fast-forwards from the late seventeenth century to the late twentieth century, in a lecture in March 1990 the astrophysicist Stephen Hawking also expressed an opinion about free will. Hawking argued that the concept of diminished responsibility in British criminal law should be abolished. Under this legal concept a few defendants’ criminal culpability, and hence their punishments, can be reduced, in certain exceptional circumstances. Even more rarely, they might be held legally ‘not guilty’ if the law or the Courts assume that these defendants do not have adequate comprehension of, or control over, their actions. The concept of diminished responsibility can also be seen in the rare cases where criminal defendants are found ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’.
Thus I'd be curious to know how Hawkings himself might have reacted to my own "free will determinist" assumptions.
If all of our actions are "determined [that is, predetermined"] how was that not applicable in turn to Hawking? He was compelled by his brain...a brain wholly embedded in the only possible reality, just like ours...to propose that "society" abolish this legal concept of diminished responsibility. And society on cue does so. Or on cue does not.The thrust of the thinking behind Hawking’s proposal to abolish this legal concept of diminished responsibility is that since all the actions of all human beings are determined (that is, predetermined), why give special preference to those criminal defendants having the defence of ‘diminished responsibility’?
Then back to how I react to that one way, while others react in an entirely different way. And yet what still seems more relevant to me is that the criminal defendant, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury, you, me and everyone else here are just more dominoes toppling over in but one of nature's countless sets of circumstances. Circumstances that unfold given the immutable laws of matter.Hawking seems to be saying, “Don’t accept only a few criminal defendants’ claims that ‘We could not have helped ourselves’, because other criminals, indeed all human beings, cannot help themselves in all their actions, either.”
Next up: the reality...
What, the laws of matter work differently in former British colonies?However, in Great Britain the doctrine of diminished responsibility has not been abolished; nor, as far as this writer is aware, has the doctrine been abolished in former British colonies, from Australia through India and Malaysia to Zimbabwe.